How things are likely to pan out in Zimbabwe in 2018


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They are joined by a battalion of analysts, who have conjured up images of Mnangagwa rubbing his hands and doing that evil cartoon villain laugh, cunningly plotting to visit what they seem to suggest is a naïve Tsvangirai, to undermine his standing as a viable candidate.

And just as we saw with ZANU-PF, senior MDC-T leaders are out there taking barely disguised shots at each other online.

Should Tsvangirai step down, as is now likely, a special congress of the party will pick a new party leader.

Chamisa is a popular choice among the commentariat and the chattering classes, who say he may energise apathetic young voters. But while he is popular outside the party, Chamisa, nicknamed “Cobra”, is viewed with suspicion by some inside the MDC-T. He may struggle to win internal polls without Tsvangirai’s backing. Some have advised Chamisa, who turns 40 in February, to stand down now, bide his time, and wait for the next election. But his supporters see him as the hope of many young voters.

Other likely contenders are VPs Thokozani Khupe and Elias Mudzuri, and secretary general Douglas Mwonzora.

Whoever wins would face the immediate task of pulling together rival leaders, both in the MDC-T and in the alliance, while at the same time running a national campaign against an opponent that they are seemingly yet to figure out.

As for the alliance itself, we see further division in the shaky, ego-laden grouping over campaign strategy, candidate selection and post-election positions.

For independents, it will be a tough ride as we see voters once again coalescing around the two main parties once the election campaigns heat up. Even with Mugabe and Tsvangirai out, it will not quite be the end of “big man” politics yet, and definitely not the end of “party first” voting.

No miracle economic turnaround

Just two days after the army action against Mugabe last November, a report appeared on the Dow Jones news wire: “Within 24 hours of the military seizing control in Harare, investment firms say their phones have been ringing with client inquiries about the chances of a turnaround in Zimbabwe from decades of decline and bouts of financial chaos under Mugabe”.

The name “Mugabe” was the biggest hurdle to Zimbabwe’s economic recovery, but no instant turnaround is possible. Both Mnangagwa’s supporters and his critics are competing in this delusion; the latter are fast to point to any economic trouble as a sign of his failure, while the former overplay any bit of good news as an earthmoving triumph of the “new dispensation.”

Continued next page

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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